Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 247 - Illegal tobacco sales [47129/13].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 247 - Illegal tobacco sales [47129/13]. (05 Nov 2013)

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247. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance the latest estimates of the amount of illegal tobacco being sold here every year; if he will confirm the Government estimates that 20% of all cigarettes sold here are counterfeit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47129/13] 


Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they do not accept that the illicit tobacco market comprises 20% of the total market, as suggested by the Deputy. Revenue is satisfied, based on a 2012 survey of smokers carried out by IPSOS MRBI on behalf of Revenue and the National Tobacco Control Office of the HSE, that 13% of all cigarettes consumed are illicit, and that a further 6% are legally brought into the country.


I am advised that a similar survey is under way for the current year and that it is anticipated that the results will be available in the first quarter of next year.


I am aware that there are other estimates of the incidence of illicit tobacco products in the Irish market. However, Revenue considers the figures from the IPSOS MRBI survey to be the most reliable, on the basis of the methodologies used, the consistent manner in which the surveys have been undertaken over a number of years and because the survey distinguishes between legal personal imports and illicit cigarettes. The surveys are geographically representative and also take social class, age, gender and nationality into account.


For the information of the Deputy, the illicit cigarette market comprises not only counterfeit cigarettes, but also illicit whites which are brands primarily manufactured for the illicit market and also regular brand cigarettes purchased in lower tax jurisdictions and illegally imported to Ireland. In the 2012 IPSOS MRBI survey approximately 2% of the 13% classified as illicit product were counterfeit.


I am also advised by the Revenue Commissioners, who are responsible for the collection of Tobacco Products Tax and for tackling the smuggling and sale of illicit tobacco products, that they view this criminal activity as a very serious matter. Accordingly, combating the illegal tobacco trade is, and will continue to be, a high priority for them. Revenue’s “Strategy on Combating the Illicit Tobacco Trade (2011-2013)” includes a wide range of measures that are designed to identify and target those engaged in the supply or sale of illicit tobacco products, with a view to seizing the illicit products and prosecuting those responsible. This multi-faceted strategy includes ongoing analysis of the nature and extent of the problem, developing and sharing intelligence on a national, EU and third country basis, ongoing review of operational policies, the use of analytics and detection technologies, and ensuring the optimum deployment of resources at both point of importation and within the country.

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Tobacco / Nicotine
Intervention Type
Crime prevention
5 November 2013

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